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Aussie shares are easing at lunch, with the ASX 200 down 0.5 per cent, which is enough to wipe out half yesterday’s gains and keeps the index below the key 6,000pt level. A weak lead from Wall Street overnight, coronavirus concerns and US-China tensions in relation to the South China Sea are keeping markets a touch cautious.

Victoria recorded 270 new COVID-19 cases, the planned border reopening between NSW and the ACT has been called off, NSW has had 13 new cases and has decided to cut pub bookings from 20 to 10 people while Queensland has tightened its border to some NSW residents. Overseas, there continues to be around 60,000 new cases per day in the US while California unveiled plans to close restaurants, movie theatres and bars which impacts more than 10 per cent of the American population. Florida remains a trouble spot, with ~12,000 cases diagnosed overnight.

Almost all sectors are losing ground at lunch, with losses from gold miners, financials, industrials and technology stocks weighing most. Village Roadshow (VRL) has agreed to another two-week extension for exclusive takeover negotiations with private equity firm, BGH Capital. BGH offered between ~$429m and $469 for the theme park operator in May. VRL’s market capitalisation was almost twice that amount at the start of this calendar year, before its shares slumped by 47 per cent Year-to-Date.

Altium (ALU) is down 2.2 per cent even though the company which makes software for engineers, announced a 10 per cent lift in FY20 revenue to US$189m, a 17 per cent jump in subscriber numbers and US$90 in cash. ALU will release its FY20 results on 17 August. ALU has been unable to shake off the sector’s 3.65 per cent decline today.

While most miners are under some pressure on Tuesday, Fortescue Metals (FMG) hit yet another fresh record high of $15.565 this morning. The iron ore miner has been helped by a 4.5 per cent lift in the price of the commodity to US$111.85/t. Whitehaven Coal (WHC) is up 4.8 per cent thanks to a solid quarterly update which highlighted a 17 per cent lift in coal production between April and June, a 13 per cent jump in sales to 5.3Mt and it managing to meet its FY20 production goals.

TPG Telecom (TPG) has started trading normally (ordinary settlement basis) on the ASX. This follows the merger between TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchison Australia, which brings together TPG’s internet business with Vodafone’s mobile network.

On the data front, both business conditions and confidence improved in June. Weekly consumer confidence eased by 0.5 per cent to 91.6pts, while payrolls fell by 1 per cent between June 20 and June 27.

2.9bn shares have changed hands so far today worth a below average $2.7bn. 354 stocks are up, 771 down and 331 are flat.

Published by CommSec